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“The Holy Spirit Is Telling Us to Elect Gay Bishops”

With special thanks to Frank Lockwood (The Bible Belt Blogger), take a look at this pastoral letter from Episcopal Church presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to the Anglican Communion…

A pastoral letter to The Episcopal Church

Pentecost continues!

Pentecost is most fundamentally a continuing gift of the Spirit, rather than a limitation or quenching of that Spirit.

The recent statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the struggles within the Anglican Communion seems to equate Pentecost with a single understanding of gospel realities. Those who received the gift of the Spirit on that day all heard good news. The crowd reported, “in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power” (Acts 2:11).

The Spirit does seem to be saying to many within The Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons are God’s good creation, that an aspect of good creation is the possibility of lifelong, faithful partnership, and that such persons may indeed be good and healthy exemplars of gifted leadership within the Church, as baptized leaders and ordained ones. The Spirit also seems to be saying the same thing in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and among some of our Christian partners, including Lutheran churches in North America and Europe, the Old Catholic churches of Europe, and a number of others.

That growing awareness does not deny the reality that many Anglicans and not a few Episcopalians still fervently hold traditional views about human sexuality. This Episcopal Church is a broad and inclusive enough tent to hold that variety. The willingness to live in tension is a hallmark of Anglicanism, beginning from its roots in Celtic Christianity pushing up against Roman Christianity in the centuries of the first millennium. That diversity in community was solidified in the Elizabethan Settlement, which really marks the beginning of Anglican Christianity as a distinct movement. Above all, it recognizes that the Spirit may be speaking to all of us, in ways that do not at present seem to cohere or agree. It also recognizes what Jesus says about the Spirit to his followers, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:12-13).

The Episcopal Church has spent nearly 50 years listening to and for the Spirit in these matters. While it is clear that not all within this Church have heard the same message, the current developments do represent a widening understanding. Our canons reflected this shift as long ago as 1985, when sexual orientation was first protected from discrimination in access to the ordination process. At the request of other bodies in the Anglican Communion, this Church held an effective moratorium on the election and consecration of a partnered gay or lesbian priest as bishop from 2003 to 2010. When a diocese elected such a person in late 2009, the ensuing consent process indicated that a majority of the laity, clergy, and bishops responsible for validating that election agreed that there was no substantive bar to the consecration.

The Episcopal Church recognizes that these decisions are problematic to a number of other Anglicans. We have not made these decisions lightly. We recognize that the Spirit has not been widely heard in the same way in other parts of the Communion. In all humility, we recognize that we may be wrong, yet we have proceeded in the belief that the Spirit permeates our decisions.

We also recognize that the attempts to impose a singular understanding in such matters represent the same kind of cultural excesses practiced by many of our colonial forebears in their missionizing activity. Native Hawaiians were forced to abandon their traditional dress in favor of missionaries’ standards of modesty. Native Americans were forced to abandon many of their cultural practices, even though they were fully congruent with orthodox Christianity, because the missionaries did not understand or consider those practices exemplary of the Spirit. The uniformity imposed at the Synod of Whitby did similar violence to a developing, contextual Christianity in the British Isles. In their search for uniformity, our forebears in the faith have repeatedly done much spiritual violence in the name of Christianity.

We do not seek to impose our understanding on others. We do earnestly hope for continued dialogue with those who disagree, for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding.

(You can read more of the letter and some great comments over at Frank’s Blog)

What do you think?

Todd



14 Responses to “ ““The Holy Spirit Is Telling Us to Elect Gay Bishops””

  1. Peter Hamm says:

    Of course they say the Holy Spirit is telling them to do this, because there’s no doubt the Bible isn’t telling them to do this…

    Why not just totally scrap and re-write the Articles of Religion while they’re at it.

    Instead of a split in the American ECUSA, which is already happening, I predict a split in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

  2. CS says:

    I keep waiting for the day when the Holy Spirit tells people that it will become okay to watch pornography, rape, or commit murder.

    Psst… Katharine Jefferts Schori. You’re a heretic. Repent of your sins and turn to Christ.


    CS

  3. Hey Todd.

    Regardless of where you come down on the issue here, I do think your headline is inappropriate. It’s sensationalistic and inflamatory. It’s also not accurate. I appreciate the fact that you push these issues forward for discussion, but I have higher expectations from you.

    thnx.

    kdl

  4. Todd Rhoades says:

    Sorry Kirk. This is actually the headline that Frank used originally. I put the quotes on it so people wouldn’t think it was me saying it; but you’re right… it’s not an official quote from the article.

    That said, if you read what she wrote, she did make reference to the HS confirming these things.

    Todd

  5. Jubilee says:

    It is most assuredly the UNHOLY spirit, the one that spoke through the serpent in the Garden, that says to these desperately deceived and deluded folks that homosexual behavior (let alone ordaining and “bishoping” these folks!!) is OK… The HOLY Spirit never contradicts the clear, written Word of God, which soundly condemns homosexual behavior as SIN in both Testaments. He also NEVER says to one group that certain behavior is sin, and says to another group, “Do it with My blessing”…!!! It’s another example of the serpentine deceiver saying, “Did God really say, ‘You must not …?” (Gen. 3:1) about something that God has given very clear direction about. That they can even suggest that the Holy Spirit is saying these things to them is clear proof of the extent to which these people/churches are racing into the prophesied last days apostasy that the Word warns us about. (2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,)

  6. Richard says:

    Hey, enough whining about sensationalistic and inflammatory. Just deal with the substantive issues and leave the complaining about “style” for the schoolyard.

  7. Elle says:

    How is this okay? I do not understand at all. How can we blatantly go against God’s word and say we are His people. It is hard enough having enough courage to tell the truth about God’s word with out the church itself making it harder and watering down God’s word.
    I do not hate homosexuals, I have a homosexual friend. She knows who I stand for and I told her that God loves her and to never let anyone tell her differently. I gave her the word of God and told her she should seek God for herself and she did. She told me at first that people of God told her God hated her and I told her God hates no one, that those people have no right to add such a lie. She said it was not easy, I told her the road of righteousness never is but it begins with that first step. Fast forward 3 almost 4 years and you have a woman repentant of her sins and married with a child.

    I do not understand at all how a church can be so bold and say the holy spirit is contradicting to God’s word. How dare they, how dare they? You know the world is in trouble when the church begins conforming to man instead of to God.

    What an unsure future they have opened up for themselves. (Matthew 7:21-27)

    What a great God we serve!
    -Elle

  8. Bryan says:

    Seriously, I hate when the Holy Spirit stops reading his bible and starts making up theology. He’s the black sheep of the trinity, you know.

  9. Q. says:

    Care to expound on that Bryan? It was funny but I’m just curious to see if that statement is indicative of anything else worth discussing my brother…

  10. CS says:

    Also, this is as passive aggressive as it can be:

    “We do not seek to impose our understanding on others. We do earnestly hope for continued dialogue with those who disagree, for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding.”

    In other words, we don’t want to ever have this discussion end so that we can continue jamming in our sinful beliefs in things. We don’t want to be told we’re wrong or have to change. Instead, let’s just keep talking, and talking, and talking.


    CS

  11. Josh Hatcher says:

    It’s like when someone writes a really horrible song and says, “I didn’t write this song. God gave it to me.”

    Yeah.
    Blame God.
    Let’s see how well that goes over when judgment day comes.

  12. Peter Hamm says:

    CS,

    I have a better quote for you, from V. Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire.

    “Just simply to say that it goes against tradition and the teaching of the church and Scripture does not necessarily make it wrong,” he said. “We worship a living God, and that living God leads us into truth.”

    That is an exact word-for-word quote. If I was still an ECUSA-er, I would not object to him merely because of his homosexuality, but even more so, because he does not believe in the authority of the Bible.

  13. CS says:

    Peter:

    Wow. That one was unbelievably bad. Makes me wonder when someone will say, “My name is Mr. Heretic, but I’m not wrong.”


    CS

  14. Christopher Fontenot says:

    I believe it was the same “holy spirit” that told Jim Jones to make a BIG batch of Kool-Aid and serve it to his congregation….

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